What is cultural fit, and why is it so important?
We’re recruiters and an employer ourselves, so we understand how costly it can be to hire and replace staff. It’s more than just a head count, it’s more than just skillsets, too. You need people who are – cliché alert – team players, as well as being good at their jobs and those people need to share your company’s values.
How do you tie all of those strands together into a happy and profitable business? And, in a world where people are moving jobs more frequently, how do you get talent to want to stay?
Cultural fit matters
Let’s start with a definition of cultural fit:
“A fit is where there is congruence between the norms and values of the organisation and those of the person.”
So says organisational psychology expert Adrian Furnham (The Psychology of Behaviour at Work, p. 116). The ‘organisation’ also means colleagues and management. There’s plenty of evidence, for example in this 2005 Kristof-Brown et al meta-analysis (PDF), to show that a good cultural fit means better retention, loyalty and performance.
What are your company’s values?
Before you jump into the recruitment fray, be clear about what your company stands for, what its values are, and its short and long-term goals. This will help you choose the right candidate – one who’ll identify with the ethos of your business and with their new colleagues.
How do you assess a candidate’s cultural fit?
Past employment experiences and assessing competency have their rightful place, but asking candidates questions about their passions, personality and motives reveals their true values. For example:
• Could they share any examples of when they felt like a poor cultural fit – and why was that?
• How would they describe your company’s culture, based on what you’ve shown them?
• What would their ideal workplace look and feel like?
• What’s their ideal way of working? Do they prefer to hole themselves away in a silo, or work across teams?
• How do they feel about working in a traditional hierarchy versus a flat structure?
• Also, look at how your office is set up. Is it a noisy place, fizzing with energy? Or is it a more contemplative space? What does your candidate prefer?
A top tip: don’t wait until the interview to fly the flag for your company’s values and culture. Make sure that you ‘seed’ your, let’s call it a ‘corporate personality’, throughout your job specs and your briefing to us. When it’s clear what you’re selling, the right people will buy.
Do a ‘show and tell’ through the office
Whether you’re hiring someone who’ll be flying solo, or a new team member, it’s a good idea to give them ‘face time’ with their potential new colleagues in the first instance. Many hiring decisions are usually based on the opinions of those doing the interviewing, but we think introducing candidates to the wider team gives a more rounded view.
Whether you’re hiring contractors or permanent people, you need them to represent your company and feel invested in their projects and pursuits. That way you’ll get long-term stayers and returners – and your company will earn a reputation for living its values.